Update on Brexit: the options ahead

In a previous article written for the Anchor, there seemed to be a glimpse of hope for Brexit talks despite the partisan impasse. Unfortunately, the past weeks have proven wildly unsuccessful. In recent news, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, has admitted to a possible time extension in order to finalize a separation deal with the European Union. Additionally, after this past Wednesday’s summit of European leaders, the Brexit talks are still deadlocked. If these negotiations fall apart, a major crisis could be headed toward Great Britain’s government and Parliament. If the March 29, 2019, withdrawal date arrives without an agreement, members of Parliament would seek some way to resolve the crisis. So far, the indication seems to lean toward a delayed withdrawal and, possibly, a new referendum being held.

Beyond this, there are a couple of ways in which subsequent events could unfold. The first would be continued talks, which would be met with heavy resistance in London and Brussels. The main question would be, if no resolution has been made over the course of two years, why would anyone expect a decision in a few more months? The second event could possibly be the resignation or deposition of Theresa May. As a result, her replacement could possibly seek to re-open talks with the EU and ask for more time. Despite this option, many conservative members of Parliament would be highly hesitant to a deposition against May.

There are too many unanswered questions: Who would replace her? Who could solve the intractable problems that she could not? The third possible event could be a new general election. Some in Britain have been speculating that May might call a snap election in an attempt to seek a mandate to revisit the issues in Brussels and break the deadlock. However, this election could lead to a Labour government (Labour-led coalition). May could use this as a threat to frighten her party back into lockstep. The fourth and final possibility could be a whole new referendum. This past weekend, 550,000 people showed up for a “People’s Vote” march in London. May opposes this idea, but she could have little choice if the Brexit crisis heightens. The bottom line is that a referendum would generate a majority vote to remain. The demographics are showing a pro-EU direction, and some voters have changed their minds after witnessing the scramble. However, if the vote was to be rehashed, the outcome would be completely unpredictable.


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